I was reading this post on IHM's blog. Of course, I'm now well past that stage when people are advising me to get pregnant. I have delivered the Good News at long last, much to the relief of my neighbour in Chennai who was apparently doing japam to make sure that I got pregnant. If only she'd been born in the days of Dasaratha, there would have been no need for silly yagnas and mango divisions. The NCERT should seriously consider including her pious face in the chapter about reproduction in their Biology textbook.
But my neighbour is, of course, just one person. Even if we assume generously that something is mentally very wrong with her, there are so many others for whom other people's pregnancy is of great interest. I've had arguments about this with my mum many times. According to her, in India, it's not impolite to take an interest in other people's lives. So somebody being interested in why you are not yet pregnant is merely an extension of that interest. I asked her if people would have had the same concern if say, I suffered from Piles. Would my neighbour do japam for my Piles problem or ask my mum about the status of my Piles every time she met her?
People also take great delight in discussing the inability of somebody to have a child. In fact, this whole baby-making process is seen as some sort of achievement and if you fail in this department, you have failed your life's purpose. On the other hand, if you are some 90-year-old man who got his 70-year-old wife pregnant, you can come on the news turban and all and tell us that drinking camel milk every day is what made you achieve this brilliance.
Why are we so baby-crazy as a nation? Surely, it's not because we love children. I mean, a baby in India has it pretty hard. As soon as it's born, it inherits a bunch of mean relatives who will make an inventory of all that's wrong with it. Then the baby has to be pierced, head-shaved, fed leghyams and subjected to drishti-pottus and such like till it's old enough to attend Pre-kg tuition classes. After that, of course, the baby becomes disillusioned in life and no amount of moral stories it was forced to listen to will come to its aid. Baby's flat and out, y'all. Flat and out on a big fat book on Mathematics by RD Sharma.
I suppose this baby-obsession comes from the fact that most married people don't know what else to talk about other than their children. Since the majority of marriages in India take place with the bride and groom not exchanging a word before the wise elders have solemnized everything, it is not difficult to see why this is so. The baby becomes a common point of interest and the marriage itself hinges on it, more or less. For the rest of their lives, parents can discuss what needs to be done for the baby and what the baby needs to do. Baby, do engineering. Baby, get married. Baby, have a baby. Etc.
So no baby means, marriage falling apart for most people. Now you see why a Piles problem cannot be treated on the same sacred platform? I suppose this is why every time I arrived in Chennai minus M and minus a pregnant tummy, people assumed I was getting divorced. The baby is like an insurance in your marriage. Even if everything crashes on a couple's head, they can always stay together for the sake of the baby.
Phew. And to think my No.1 reason for having a baby was that babies are funny.